Public Lecture: Lone Actor Terrorists: A Behavioural Analysis

Talk by Dr Paul Gill, Lecturer in Security and Crime Science at VOX-pol partner University College London

Based upon a unique dataset of 111 lone actors that catalogues the life span of the individual’s development, the presentation contains important insights into what an analysis of their behaviours might imply for practical interventions aimed at disrupting or even preventing attacks. It adopts insights and methodologies from criminology and forensic psychology to provide a holistic analysis of the behavioural underpinnings of lone-actor terrorism. By focusing upon the behavioural aspects of each offender and by analysing a variety of case studies, including Anders Breivik, Ted Kaczynski, Timothy McVeigh and David Copeland, this work marks a pointed departure from previous research in the field. It seeks to answer the following key questions:

  • Is there a lone-actor terrorist profile and how do they differ?
  • What behaviours did the lone-actor terrorist engage in prior to his/her attack and is there a common behavioural trajectory into lone-actor terrorism?
  • How ‘lone’ do lone-actor terrorists tend to be?
  • What role, if any, does the internet play?
  • What role, if any, does mental illness play?


PaulGillPrevious to joining UCL, Dr. Gill was a postdoctoral research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Pennsylvania State University. He has previously managed projects funded by the Office for Naval Research and the Department of Homeland Security. These projects focused upon various aspects of terrorist behavior including the nature of malevolent creativity, terrorist network structures, terrorist leaders and lone-actor terrorism. His doctoral research focused on the underlying individual and organizational motivations behind suicide bombing. This piece of research won the Jean Blondel Prize for the best Ph.D. thesis in Political Science in Europe for 2010. His book on lone actor terrorists was recently published by Routledge.

For further details about this event, contact Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens at

UPDATE: You can now listen to an audio recording of Dr Gill’s talk on Soundcloud below:

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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